Shah Rukh Khan as vertically challenged Bauua Singh in Zero is all set to win hearts at the theaters. In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, the 53-year-old actor says Zero is a film made with an idea of treating people as equals.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Zero romances and celebrates life. You are an epitome of romance. Was there a connection which Aanand L Rai saw?
When Aanand and Himanshu were narrating the story, the first thing they told me before the narration was that ‘Khan saab, what we want to do is take away from you all that you are known for and put you in a position, similarly for the other actors.’ For instance, Katrina is imposingly known for being a diva or doing dance numbers which are sizzling etc. Similarly, for Anushka, she is a very mercurial actor, I find her like that honestly. You go to that actor and say I am going to make you sit in a wheelchair dealing with a syndrome, but you would still be a heroine and object of romance.
So, I think that was very interesting. What Aanand wanted was something contrary to what we stand for but still fit into the parameters of a commercial, family film that has all the ingredients. Also, one thing he was very clear about was that he did not want any of us to search, ask or beg for empathy. (He said) Just let your incompleteness be celebrated. You should not look sad. The whole idea of equality is that you look at any of us, you should treat them as equals. That is a message the film sends.
Q. Was it a challenge to portray a vertically-challenged man?
For me, it was a little easier because technology helped me a lot. The VFX team gave me the freedom to be how I am, except for a few technical things. For Anushka, she underwent a whole process of understanding cerebral palsy. It is a commercial film but when you are dealing with an affliction like this, you have to be true to it, but still maintain what you would like a commercial actress to do.
I think she went through a lot of prep. Many times, she would do a scene and her team would look at the monitor, not for how her hair looks like or if the makeup is right but to point out if there is an inconsistency. So, it was an amazing dedication.
Q. How did you approach the character as it is quite possible that people might take offence to your portrayal?
Bauua is vertically challenged. I don’t think I myself am an exceptionally tall person. Initially, when I became a movie star people would go – ‘arre bada chota sa hai’, people would say – ‘tandurust bhi nahi hai.’ I remember being told “star-stoor wali baat toh hai hi nahi” It is alright. I am going to be just me. I am unique and that is why I keep saying that if I am too fat, too happy, too weird, it is me. This is what makes me. The idea is never to feel sad about who you are.
I hope people understand it is amazingly special to be ordinary, to be who you are physically, mentally and emotionally. We have tried to cover all three aspects. I think people will come out smiling from the theater.
The film, also starring Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif, has been produced by Red Chillies Entertainment and Colour Yellow Productions. The Aanand L Rai directorial will hit the screens on December 21.